Tag: los padres national forest

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park: Big Sur River Gorge

Hike: Big Sur River Gorge
Where: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Trailhead: Big Sur River Gorge/Mt. Manuel next to Parking Lot 3
Level: Moderate
Length: 1.2 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Aero Tank, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack 2.5L, and Ahnu Tilden Sandal
Cost of Parking: $10 inside the park

I had accidentally stopped by Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and headed up the Big Sur River Gorge last summer when we stopped too early in an attempt to do the Tanbark Trail & Tin House loop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I mean, the names are confusing. Really.

The last time I was here, we made it up the river to the swimming hole, but opted to come back at a later time to jump in. I was determined to check this place off my bucket list! And this weekend, I did. Headed down to the park on a hot Sunday morning with some friends. We were afraid it would be foggy and cool, but the fog quickly burned off to reveal blue, blue skies for a marvelous trek up the river.

We parked at Parking Lot #3 and made our way up a paved road to the river where we began to walk up. Even with the drought, there was still a solid amount of water in the river. I found myself up to my waist during certain portions. I highly recommend bringing watershoes to hike in the river. It makes it 10x easier than trying to scramble and boulder hop on slippery wet rocks or avoiding getting your feet wet. I was able to just hike up in the river for a good portion of the hike which made it quite enjoyable. The water temperature was cool, not too cool, and refreshing.

At the end of the trek, you reach the largest swimming hole, nestled by towering granite walls. Even with this year’s drought, water levels are still high enough for swimming and jumping off rocks. This spot is very popular in the summer on a warm day so don’t expect much privacy. There are swimming spots along the way up if you prefer less of a crowd.

Remember to pay careful attention to your surroundings. The rocks are slippery and loose and mossy, and sometimes water may be deeper than it seems. Your safety is your responsibility.

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Ventana Wilderness: Junipero Serra Peak

Hike: Junipero Serra Peak via Santa Lucia Trail
Where: Ventana Wilderness
Trailhead: Santa Lucia Trail
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 4 hours
Length: 4 miles
Gear: Outdoor Research Ignitor Tee, REI Sahara Convertible Pants, Boreas Topaz 25 Daypack, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free

Drove down this past weekend to Los Padres National Forest with every intention to bag Junipero Serra Peak. (For the record, the drive down at night is gorgeous with millions of stars as far as the eye can see, so that was worth it in itself.) Did I bag it? Not even close. I underestimated the scorching sun, unforgiving heat, lack of shade, and desolate dryness of this side of the Santa Lucia Range.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: Tin House from HQ

Hike: Tin House from Park HQ
Where: Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park (park map here)
Level: Moderate
Duration: 4 hours
Length: 8~ miles
Gear: REI Sahara Convertible Pants – Women’s Petite, Arc’teryx Delta LT, Icebreaker Bodyfit Oasis Crew, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles
Cost of Parking: $10 in park, or free on the side of HW1

I’ve been meaning to do this hike for a while, but never manage to make it out to Big Sur. The one time I did this past summer, I accidentally went to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (I mean, come on, the names are so identical) and ended climbing up the Big Sur River instead. Made it down to the right park this past Christmas, but then drove past the trailhead.

But that’s okay! Because it made this hike even better. I parked at the big turnout down the road from McWay Falls about 500 feet and walked up Highway 1 into park headquarters. For Christmas Day, it was pretty packed full of people already leaving. (It was 10am when I got there.)

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